Ascot preview: First Eleven takes aim at Cumberland Lodge

Sat 6 Oct 2018

Connections of First Eleven are hoping the son of Frankel can gain a much-needed Pattern-race success in the Stella Artois Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

The John Gosden-trained colt’s only previous run in a Group Three did not go to plan, but he has shown progressive form.

Unlucky to finish third when beaten a neck by Baghdad in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot, he landed a handicap in convincing fashion at the Berkshire track last month.

“It was pleasing to see him get back to winning ways last time and he seems to run well at Ascot,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah.

“He was a little unlucky there at the Royal meeting and then I think Newmarket probably came just a bit too soon in the Bahrain Trophy.

“John gave him a break and then he came back and won nicely at the last Ascot meeting.

“He did have handicap options but given his breeding, by Frankel out of Zenda (French Guineas winner), it’s important for him to become a Group-race winner.”

John Ryan gave Grey Britain the summer off, after he sprung a 50-1 surprise at Newmarket in May, in the hope of getting soft ground at this time of year.

Whether the four-year-old takes part depends on how much rain falls before the race.

“Grey Britain is in good order. He has had the summer off because of the ground. The doubt would be if they don’t get the rain that has been forecast,” said the Newmarket trainer.

“There might be a doubt if I don’t think the ground is suitable. He’s been working well at home on the all-weather surface, but we’ve been waiting for easier ground.

“They are saying though the forecast is diverting from heavy downpours to light showers. He’ll turn up but if it isn’t suitable, he won’t run.”

Spear takes aim at Challenge Cup:

The going is on Dean Ivory’s mind as Flaming Spear, who landed a gamble a Goodwood in August, bids to defy a big weight in the Bet With Ascot Challenge Cup Heritage Handicap.

Ivory, who won this race with Librisa Breeze in 2016, has booked Irish apprentice Ben Coen for the ride.

“Flaming Spear speaks for himself from his last run. We’ll see what the ground’s like for him,” Ivory said. “He’s a bit awkward in the stalls and is a quirky little horse, but he was very impressive last time and I’d like to think we’ll have another good run again.

“We’ll just have to keep everything crossed again. Claiming 5lb puts us right in the weights again.”

Growl, who was sixth to Librisa Breeze two years ago, has to bounce back from a poor run in the Ayr Gold Cup.

“He was disappointing at Ayr and I don’t why,” said trainer Richard Fahey.

“He’s stepping up in trip but he has won over seven, so we’ll see.”

The Musley Bank handler would like to think his other runner, George Bowen, can hold his form together after being on the go since March.

“He’s had a great season. It’s just if he’s in the same form, but we’re happy with him,” he said.

Mr Lupton "has to run" in Rous Stakes:

Mr Lupton represents Fahey in the Duke Of Edinburgh Award Rous Stakes but has a 5lb penalty for his Group Three victory at Newbury two weeks ago.

“This is the only left race for him this season, so he has to take his chance,” the trainer said.

“He’s got a penalty for his last win. It’s going to be tough, but we’ll give it a go.”

Ivory would like to see some rain for his two runners, Eirene and Lucymai, in the Neptune Investment Management British EBF October Stakes.

Eirene was runner-up to Dancing Star in the Group Three Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster last month while all-weather specialist Lucymai is making only her second appearance on turf.

“Eirene wants soft ground. She’s tough and she’s consistent. I thought she was going to win as easy as you like at Doncaster, but there you are, that’s racing,” said the Radlett handler.

“I’m just hoping the rain comes in time for her and for Lucymai as well.

“She’s only run once on grass and that was at Doncaster (back in 2015). She’s a big filly and appreciates a bit of cut in the ground. She keeps improving.

“If we get the ground, they should both run big races.”

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